WWE is just like every other company – they have financial problems dependent on stock markets and most of the time, they are forced to downgrade their talent based on the amount of money they are losing.
Vince McMahon lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in one day in 2014, which was following the launch of the WWE Network. The Network was thought to have been a failure for the first few months after its launch in February 2014, and WWE then had to relieve most of their talent because of the money they had managed to lose when they hadn’t reached the million subscribers that they first forecast.
If WWE’s ratings drop, they lose money and this means that they are forced to drop talent. Many of the superstars that WWE release are ones that have been under contract for a few years and WWE haven’t used them in a long time. There have been many superstars who have been released this way over the past few years and the following lists just 15 of these stars:
16. Paul London
London is still considered to have been one of the greatest high flyers of WWE’s Cruiserweight Division in the early 2000s, and even went on to hold the Cruiserweight Championship. When he first emerged in the WWE back in 2003, they paired him with Billy Kidman, but Kidman retired not long after London’s emergence as a writer.
London then gained success as a Tag Team wrestler when his partnership with Brian Kendrick. While the two had an on-again, off-again, partnership, they ‘struck gold’ when they were managed by Ashley Massaro, and in 2007, took home the WWE Tag Team Championships. They ended up having the longest running reign since the title’s creation, but when Kendrick got drafted to SmackDown in June, 2008. Following the duos split and Kendrick’s draft back to SmackDown, London was left with no story line. Combined with an injury that hindered his in-ring skill, and it’s easy to see why he was one of many names that were released in November 2008, that includes Lena Yada, Chuck Palumbo and Kenny Dykstra in November 2008.
London’s last match in a WWE ring occurred against Lance Cade, who he lost to in a Singles match on Raw. London was released in November, and by February was working on the Independent circuit.
15. Elijah Burke
Elijah found fame in WWE on its newly restarted ECW brand, when became a part of The New Breed. In fact, he was even considered to be one of the biggest faces in the industry at one time.
Unfortunately the New Breed stable came to an end (fun fact? Last match involved CM Punk) and Elijah’s value started to diminish. Following his switch to WWE’s SmackDown brand, Elijah just happened to be the last person to wrestle Chris Benoit on WWE TV before his death. His switch wasn’t as successful as WWE were hoping it would be as they began trying to feed former ECW stars through to the main roster.
You can’t say the WWE didn’t give him attempts though, he also had a feud with Batista who was the champion at the time!…Except the feud ended after he got squashed on Raw…twice.
After six months away from WWE TV, Burke was released from his contract. Burke is currently signed to a TNA contract where he is a commentator using the ring name “The Pope” D’Angelo Dinero. At least he was able to realize that he probably wasn’t making it as a wrestler anytime soon! Given that he’s 38, you can imagine his wrestling days are definitely behind him.
T14. Robbie and Rory McAlister
The Highlanders were a Scottish tag team that entered the ring in traditional Scottish attire, which included kilts and the use of animal fur. While on the independent circuit, prior to making their debut, they had a TWO year tag-team feud with the Texas Hell-Razors. So at the very least, you can imagine that the two were plenty experienced when it came to working together.
The duo were well accepted by the WWE Universe for the first few months after their debut, but like many unique gimmicks in tag teams, the Highlanders didn’t offer anything new and their characters became stale.
WWE never attempted to repackage the duo as singles competitors and instead opted to release them both from their contracts in August 2008. They were unable to win any championships during their time in the WWE. Their last televised match was against Cryme Tyme, in which they were promptly defeated.
The duo haven’t stayed in wrestling since their release and instead have opted to settle down with their families. What probably did not help their job security, was the fact that Robbie was seen on camera attending an episode of TNA: Impact! Definitely not a good look to go and be promoting your rival brand, especially when you find out that the event was only a few days before WrestleMania!
When asked about his time in the WWE, Robbie has stated “I was very unhappy in WWE, and in retrospect, I think it was kind of my way to get fired.”
12. Gail Kim
The former WWE Women’s Champion is widely considered one of the greatest women’s wrestlers of the modern era, but this is mostly due to the impact she had had on TNA’s Knockouts Division since her WWE departure.
Gail Kim is mostly remembered as being the only Diva to have won the Women’s Championship in her debut match; this was done when she won a seven-Diva battle royal by eliminating Victoria to win the Women’s Championship. Kim was able to retain the title for the next 4 weeks, including a successful title defense, but lost the belt to Molly Holly.
After less than two years with the company, she was released from her contract in 2004 as part of a cost-cutting measure. The firing reportedly came out of no where for Gail, who had been on RAW that previous week. One aspect that is not as widely talked about, is the fact that Kim had a significant collarbone injury in November, 2003, that kept her out of action for 5 months. As well as this, Kim suffered a ruptured breast implant that kept her sidelined for 2 weeks.
Kim returned to the company from 2008-2011, but after leaving for a 2nd time vowed that the WWE holds female talent back and that she would never re-sign with the promotion.
11. Matt Morgan
At 7 feet tall and 330 pounds, there is no doubt that Morgan had the physical size to succeed in the ring, he just didn’t really nail any other element!
Morgan was only a part of WWE programming for around 18 months, but thankfully for him, he managed to make enough of an impact for fans to remember him when he made the switch to TNA.
One of his career highlights would have been competing in the 2004 Royal Rumble, but he was then kept off WWE TV until April 21, 2005 when he unveiled his new gimmick as a stuttering-big man who was very defensive over his speech disorder…What were they thinking?!
Brett Matthews, a wrestler who nobody had heard of at that point, then quickly defeated Morgan. Morgan’s last match in the promotion was supposed to be against William Regal, but he was unexpectedly attacked by The Mexicools and the match never took place. I’m sure the WWE Universe was ecstatic that they were saved the embarrassment of having to watch another Morgan match.
As part of budget cuts in July 2005, WWE decided to release Matt Morgan from his contract.
Morgan then proceeded to work in Japan and Europe for a brief period, before finding a more stable footing in TNA.
It was hard for WWE to push Aksana because she wasn’t talented on the mic. Most of her career saw her partnering with heel stables and allowing others to do her talking for her, because her accent was too strong to understand. It also didin’t help that Aksana made her debut, and then seemingly disappeared for over a month.
She came from an athletic background after training as a bodybuilder, in fact, she won three medals for Amateur Bodybuilding. But as you know, it takes more than just muscles to succeed in the WWE. You may agree that Aksana was always considered as forgettable, and it does not help that she did not achieve much in the WWE.
Despite being beautiful, when the WWE had to cut their budget in 2014, Aksana was one of the first names to be called. That being said, she still made her mark in the videogame world! She is a playable character in WWE 2k14, though you probably wouldn’t be winning too many matches!
Clearly this was not the most engaging experience of Aksana’s life, as she has not engaged in any wrestling since her release.
9. Theodore Long
The former General Manager of SmackDown, Teddy Long was famous for his “Holla Holla Playa” saying, and his incredibly catching ring entrance music, but that was not enough to save his job!
After WWE decided that they no longer wanted a brand split, it seemed that there was no need to have a General Manager anymore. Teddy was off WWE TV for almost a year before it was decided that he would be released along with 10 other talents as a cost-cutting measure in June 2014.
Teddy may still be on good terms with the company though, and in 2016, appeared on an episode of RAW where he tried to convince Stephanie that he deserved another chance to run Smackdown.
Though as you can imagine, there aren’t a lot of other wrestling promotions out there that are looking for a ‘former fake wrestling general manager’, so let’s hope Teddy was able to be smart with the money he was earning from the WWE!
One thing you may not know about Teddy? When he made his debut in the WWF back in 1998, he was a ref! He held the position until 2002.
8. Scotty 2 Hotty
The former Tag Team Champion was well known for his “worm” finishing move and dancing gimmick during his second tenure with WWE from 1999-2007.
This included teaming up with Rikishi and Brian Christopher to become Too Cool. This gimmick would see them dancing in celebration at the end of many of their matches.
The dancing gimmick was a big thing for WWE though out the early 2000s, but as the era changed it became obvious that the dancing was becoming old news. Huge credit to Scotty though, who was able to hold WWF Tag Team Championship, as well as the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. Scott was released from his contract in 2007.
Not allowing that to deter him, Scotty then took to the independent circuit and worked for 31 different promotions in 11 different countries. Talk about a cool way to see the world!
In 2013, Scotty realized that the thing that may be too hot…is fires! Awful joke, but it makes more sense when you realize he decided to train as a firefighter. Following graduation from the Fire Academy, Scotty also engaged in training for an emergency medical technician.
JTG lit up WWE’s tag team division when he partnered with Shad Gaspard, as the duo became known as CrymeTyme. This was a unique gimmick that saw them stealing other wrestlers’ property and selling it off to fans.
The most prominent example of this was the “ho sale” following Lita’s final WWE match and sold off much of her property to the audience in attendance. The gimmick was a big hit with the WWE Universe. Though as most tag-teams go, the two started feuding and neither were captivating enough on their own.
He didn’t have as much success having only won one match in 2012. By the time the release papers came for him in 2014, it had been at least a year since he saw the inside of a WWE ring. His last match came in September, 2013, in which he lost to Santino Marella.
After being fired, JTG and Shad took their tag-team gimmick to the independent circuit. Only this time, they went by Crime Time, not Cryme Tyme, so they wouldn’t get sued.
In 2015, he released a book entitled DAMN! Why Did I Write This Book?
We aren’t too sure either…
6. Yoshi Tatsu
Yoshi was another WWE superstar who was brought into WWE to appear on their new ECW brand. After several years on the NJPW, Yoshi made for a logical choice.
Though as you know by now, this new PG-style ECW brand didn’t have as much success as WWE had hoped. This forced the WWE to try to feed the best of ECW into the main roster in WWE.
Yoshi was even a part of NXT when the brand was first in its infancy in 2012. But in 2014, WWE were forced to release much of their talent because they felt that the WWE Network had failed to bring in as many subscribers as first forecast. Yoshi was also on the list of wrestlers that WWE could release without it affecting current storylines.
His last match took place at WrestleMania 30 in which he was unsuccessful at winning the Andre the Giant memorial battle royale. Upon his release from the company, he returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he is still currently wrestling.
Kudos to Yoshi for being able to keep his dream alive, especially when you consider there was a moment in which he had two bones in his neck break after A.J. Styles failed to successfully perform the Styles Clash finisher.
5. Evan Bourne
Evan “Air” Bourne was one of the most visually appealing superstars that WWE has ever had. He was also clearly passionate about wrestling, working on the independent circuit from 2000 to 2007 until he was finally noticed by the WWE.
Following his WWE release he has managed to have a large degree of success on the independent circuit as Matt Sydal.
Bourne became one of WWE’s greatest high flyers because of his incredible 450 splash finisher. He was also a part of one of the greatest RKO’s of all time, when Randy Orton caught him in mid-air and hit his devastating finisher. During his time in the WWE, he was however successful at winning the WWE Tag Team Championship with Kofi Kingston.
Sadly, Evan was never utilised to his full potential and his name was also on the list when WWE made drastic changes to their roster in mid 2014. It also didn’t help that in 2012 he had violated the WWE’s wellness policy. To add to that misfortune, he had a motorcycle accident that also caused him to miss some time in the ring. You can currently find him wresting for NJPW… maybe he’ll have a match with Yoshi?
4. Christy Hemme
The first ever Diva Search winner became a hit with the WWE Universe when she unveiled her guillotine leg drop finisher, but sadly there wasn’t a lot more to Christy Hemme’s arsenal.
Hemme was released from her WWE contract in December 2005, just a year after she had won the Diva Search. This was said to be a cost cutting measure, but there were rumours of backstage relationships that forced this release as well. The writing team had also come out and said they did not know what storyline they could do with Christy, which definitely does not help keep your value!
Christy headed over to TNA where she had much more success as both a backstage interviewer and as a female wrestler.
Christy has dabbled in the independent circuit for several years (most prominently from 2006-2009) but her last appearance in a ring appears to be when she was a special guest referee for “Family Wrestling Entertainment.”
Hemme got married to her partner, Charley Patterson and in 2015, gave birth to her first child. Hemme has even attempted to act a little bit, appearing as a zombie in Bubba’s Chill Parlor but given that I bet you’ve never heard of that movie, you can imagine it did not do super well.
3. Brodus Clay
The “Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay is another wrestler that WWE will look back on and realize that they never used him to his full potential. After all, he came in 2nd on the 4th season on NXT so you need to hope he had at least some original talent? Instead of trying to develop as a singles wrestler, he was instead placed into a tag team with Tensai (who became known as “Sweet T”) and together they were referred to as “Tons of Funk.”
Tons of Funk even had had their own cheerleaders who were called “The Funkadactyls.” After a string of losses, the Funkadactyls left Brodus and WWE decided to give him the same treatment as well, releasing him from his contract in June 2014.
His last match in a WWE ring came up against Adrian Neville in which he failed to win a battle royale that would have determined the new number one contender for the NXT championship.
Brody then took his talents to TNA, where he worked from 2014-2016, including a stint in which he played Matt Hardy’s bodyguard. Given that he is now 43 years old, Brodus’s peak wrestling days are definitely behind him. Let’s hope he does not look back at them with too many regrets!
2. Jinder Mahal
The biggest highlight of Jinder’s career was when he was made a part of 3MB. This was a team that consisted of three superstars, including Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater. Unfortunately, these 3 wrestlers combined did not have a ton of charisma. Always makes you scratch your head when the WWE takes wrestlers they’ve been doing nothing with for months, and then putting them in an awful tag team.
3MB would be the “job” tag team of our time and would often be taken out by The Shield as a way to prove their dominance. The trio looked like they were finally about to gain a form of momentum, but shockingly, Jinder was released on June 12th, as was Drew McIntyre, effectively putting an end to his WWE dreams.
Jinder has worked on the independent circuit since 2014, and in 2016 suited up for Continental Wrestling Entertainment, which is run out of India by the Great Khali!
When asked about why he was hired for the WWE in the first place, he stated “I think they needed an Indian guy, they were looking for one”
1. Drew McIntyre
Drew was by far one of the worst budget-cut releases that WWE ever made. He was brought in by Vince McMahon as a legitimate contender for the World Championship after he had seen him wrestle during a WWE tour to the UK.
McIntyre had already been a part of the British Wrestling Circuit for many years and was considered a seasoned superstar. The creative team completely dropped the ball with Drew because he was a star that was capable of much more than he was given. As you learned with the above entry, it was a sad sight when he ended his career with 3MB. He has since become a star in ICW as well as being the TNA World Champion.
In 2015, he announced he was going to start wrestling for Pro Wrestling Guerilla and had his most recent match (and victory!) on May 20th against Michael Elgin. The PWG may not be quite the same scale as the WWE, but at least he’s still able to do what he loves on a regular basis.
While he may have never made a mark in the WWE, at least Drew knew he had the talent to never give up on his dreams.
Is there a wrestler that has been cut that left you fuming? Feel free to comment and share this list with your friends!